Longtail collecting is the painstaking process of acquiring fringe pieces to fill out a collection. Generally speaking, as you get into the longtail, you get into rarer and more expensive pieces. As a result, your average cost per pencil (ACPP) goes up with each successive shipment.
Here’s a look at how my ACPP has increased since June 2021 (with total number of pencils in parentheses):
- June 2021: ¥899 (148)
- July 2021: ¥672 (280)
- Sep 2021: ¥875 (227)
- Oct 2021: ¥1012 (123)
- Nov 2021: ¥996 (188)
- Dec 2021: ¥853 (222)
- Jan 2022: ¥1392 (124)
- Feb 2022: ¥1940 (94)
- Apr 2022: ¥1948 (91)
- Sep 2022: ¥3169 (56)
- Oct 2022: ¥3415 (55)
- Nov 2022: ¥4165 (48)
- Nov 2022: ¥2661 (74)
- Dec 2022: ¥4525 (44)
- Feb 2023: ¥4847 (40)
When I was first starting out, I wanted to collect pieces from every manufacturer, and I also focused on keeping prices as low as possible.
At the time, I didn’t care too much about specimen quality outside of general condition (stickers and boxes were not important).
Back then, large lots were attractive because they enabled me to get hands-on with a lot of different pencils; plus, I barely owned anything, so most of these pencils were new to me (and could potentially end up as showpieces in the collection).
Of course, as I acquired more pencils, these large lots became less and less useful. By early 2022, I shifted my focus to specific pieces, and this is when the cost per pencil started to inflate.
Also, I had mostly refrained from getting high end pieces up to that point. But with the base of my collection in place, it was natural to shift gears and start focusing on acquiring various holy grails (which implies an obvious increase in ACPP).
When we zoom in on my February 2023 shipment, it becomes clear why/how the ACPP increases so fast when elevated pieces are the only things left to get:
- Pilot ProTex: ¥37,073
- Pentel PXE05: ¥34,500
- Pilot H-2103: ¥15,000
- Pilot Sprinter green: ¥11,000
- Pilot Clutch Point etched: ¥9000
- Pilot Switch etched stripes: ¥7910
- Pentel Kerry Tokyo Hands: ¥7500
- Uni M3-1051 Turquoise: ¥5900
- Platinum ¥1500 double-knock blue: ¥5500
Each of these pieces is hard to find, and a few of them almost never appear for sale. When you only need a few select pieces to fill out portions of the collection, you’ve got no choice but to swallow a price increase (because greater specificity always costs more, regardless of the domain).